The bone structure of every person's dominant index finger is unique – so unique, in fact, that it can be used as a new form of biometric identification. Known as VibWrite, the technology was developed by a team from Rutgers University led by Prof. Yingying (Jennifer) Chen.

Here's how it works …

Embedded in a smooth surface – such as the wood adjacent to an electronic door lock, or the steel of a car door – are a small motor that generates vibrations, and a piezoelectric sensor that detects those same vibrations.

When someone touches the area between the motor and the sensor, their finger absorbs some of the vibrations and reflects others back into the wood or other material, altering their trajectory. The sensor registers these changes in the vibrations that it's receiving. It is then possible for the system to identify the individual who's doing the touching, based on the unique way in which their finger's bone structure absorbs and reflects the vibrations.

For added security, the surface can also include a keypad on which the user has to enter a PIN, or slide their fingertip in a specific pattern.

In tests so far, VibWrite has been able to verify the identity of users with 95 percent accuracy. It uses little electricity, and is claimed to be about one-tenth the cost of more sophisticated technologies such as fingerprint-reading and iris-recognition systems. That said, Chen and her team still plan on improving its performance, and assessing how it's affected by variables such as temperature, humidity and dust.

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